Fixating on Single Issues

I wrote a blog post a little while back talking about writing for short attention spans, the point of which was to help us to figure out that we have to adjust our own personal writing style to accommodate this new era of impatient information consumption. While I won’t contradict that article in this post, I do want to say that the attitude inherent in the modern reader has caused a serious problem in our ability to address the issues of today. As our attention span continues to become shorter over time, we are losing the ability to focus on more than one thing at a time.

Our modern media has masterfully railroaded us into this way of thinking. Over the last several decades we have shifted from news organizations that simply report what is happening in the world and allow us to decide how we feel about it to hype groups that find a single topic and drag it out for as long as they can profit from it. We no longer get truly wide ranging world or national news. The cycle today is to find a single issue and paste it up as large as possible until the people get bored with it, at which point they move on to something else.

This is a huge problem in a world that is becoming more complex all the time. As the events of the world continue to become more difficult to understand, we need to have a citizenry that is well informed on all the major things going on. Instead, we have a media that is more concerned about profits than objectivity, and the average person has no idea what is going on in their own neighborhood, much less the nation or the other side of the globe. We know more about the relationship status of ex-royal family members than the impending dangers of other nations.

How do we deal with this problem? The average citizen has no real power anymore, especially if you live in a state where the constituency is so overwhelmingly one sides that there is no question as to who the electoral votes will go to. When we look at all the money involved in this issue, it makes us feel hopeless that anything can be done to turn back the tide. It all feels so big.

The unfortunate truth is that to fight back against this hegemony of corruption, we will need to do what has been required from the beginning of time. It is when the general public finally wakes up to the evil that we find the motivation to do something about it. These kinds of things start small, with passionate people stepping to the forefront to convince others to take up the cause. Revolution starts with a tiny spark which catches to the fuel already there and flares up into an inferno. We just need to stop letting the media sprinkle water on the flame.

As individual citizens, we can only do what we can do to combat this problem. It starts by discarding what your media outlet is telling you think about a topic, regardless of conservative or liberal affiliation, and make up your own mind about it. We have to understand that virtually all of these organizations are propaganda machines designed to convince you to take on their view of the issues. We should be free-thinking individuals, taking in the facts and deciding for ourselves how we feel about it.

Once we learn to do this on our own, we can collaborate with others who value individual decision making to come to a compromise about whatever it is we disagree on. We don’t get anything done in this country anymore because have become so hyper partisan that the extremes of each group are doing the fighting rather than the rational members. Until we can cast off the media hype that exists today and return to a doctrine of reasonable disagreement, we will never return to the strength we once had as the beacon of light to the world.

How do you feel about the media today? Do you find yourself flitting from topic to topic like the wind? How often do you feel triggered by a headline or social media post? The problems of today are highly affected by these very issues, and until we can learn to move away from this way of thinking, our nation will continue to struggle to resolve the deeper issues still plaguing our way of life.

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